Day 24: Jeanmar, because eight is not enough.

We don’t know Jeff Locke’s long-range prospects. After last season’s second-half fade, he had to win back his starter’s job, something he obviously cannot do on the sidelines with a sore right-side.

Short-range, however, he must pretty much be considered out of the season-opening picture. Whenever he is ready to resume throwing, he will be back at Square One while other starters are already stretched out to three innings.

So the Pirates may be looking for a fifth starter in April. They shouldn’t look farther than their own bullpen: Jeanmar Gomez.

When all is said and done, this may go down as Neal Huntington’s finest trade, in January 2013: Gomez from the Indians for Quincy Latimore (who, if you must know, is back in the Pirates family after being signed as a Minor League free agent five weeks ago).

Every time he has taken the mound, in whatever capacity, the 26-year-old Gomez has been lights-out. It’s continuing this spring: 6 innings, no runs on two hits, no walks and three strikeouts.

And he does it so precisely, it seems effortless. He blanked the Twins on one hit for three innings the other day, and needed only 28 pitches to get the nine outs.

The Bucs actually won all eight of Gomez’s starts last season. They gotta go for nine-for-nine in early April.

* * *

Travis Snider is known on Twitter as @Lunchboxhero45 for being a celebrated foodie. But he doesn’t actually have a nickname.

He may have one now, since manager Clint Hurdle, referring to his offseason workout regimen and the toe surgery to get rid of an excruciating bone spur, the other day said of the boyish Snider, “He looks younger than he did last year, and that’s impossible.”

That does it. We have to start calling him …

… Benjamin Button.

* * *

The Bucs clearly are their league’s AL-killers.

Their National League-best 7-2 exhibition record is easy to understand: All they are playing are AL teams. And, remember, the Pirates had the NL’s best Interleague record last season at 15-5.

So this Grapefruit League start is simply business as usual.

* * *

Finally … 

… as the Rays were getting drubbed today by the Bucs, the Charlotte Sports Park operators apparently had no choice but to pay homage to the Pirates mascot:

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